Real estate mogul Donald Trump's firm, The Trump Organization, paid bribes through middlemen to New York City tax assessors to lower its property tax bills, according to a damning report by ProPublica.
Trump's company paid the bribes in exchange for lowered tax bills "for several Manhattan buildings in the 1980s and 1990s, according to five former tax assessors and city employees as well as a former Trump Organization employee."
Among those buildings is 40 Wall Street.
Two of the five former city employees admitted they personally took the bribes. The other three said they knew about the bribes.
"The city employees were among 18 indicted in 2002 for taking bribes in exchange for lowering the valuations of properties, which in turn reduced the taxes owed for the buildings. All of the 18 eventually pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan except for one, who died before his case was resolved."
The moment that corrupt assessors told their co-conspirators that the Trump Organization had agreed to pay bribes was memorable, said Frank Valvo, a former city assessor who served a year and a half in prison for his role in the scheme.
The excitement was palpable in the office, Valvo recalled, as one of the assessors broached the news. “He says, ‘We got Trump!’” Valvo recalled. “Wow. Holy Smokes.”
ProPublica notes that the Trump organization denies bribes were paid, and adds that there is no evidence that Donald Trump knew about them.
Trump Organization chief legal officer Alan Garten wrote in a statement: "If anything, the Trump Organization was a victim of the scandal."
Read the full report here.